Some don’t buy Arizona boycotts

Janet Babin May 18, 2010

Some don’t buy Arizona boycotts

Janet Babin May 18, 2010


Kai Ryssdal: Seattle is the latest city to boycott Arizona. Kind of. The Seattle City council approved a boycott last night to protest Arizona’s tough new immigration law. But they managed to do it in a way that maintains the only substantive contract the city has with an Arizona company: $1.3 million to run Seattle’s red light cameras, if you’re curious. But even token protests like that can add up. Other cities have approved actual economic boycotts. So those who favor tougher immigration laws are fighting back, trying their best to support Arizona financially.

Janet Babin reports.

Janet Babin: Genevieve Peters vacationed in southern Nevada this past weekend. But the L.A. native also went out of her way to cross into Arizona.

Genevieve Peters: We went over there and spent money. We filled up our gas tank, and we ate breakfast before we traveled home.

Peters is what’s called a “buy-cotter.” She uses her pocketbook to support Arizona’s new immigration law. Los Angeles, Boston and New York are among a growing list of entities boycotting Arizona because of the bill.

Peters says they have no right.

Peters: Have you checked with the people? Have you taken a poll? No, you haven’t.

Not only are some groups supporting the buy-cott, they’re hoping 13 others states enact similar laws.

Opponents of the bill say it could lead to racial profiling. It certainly led to funny comedy skits, like this one from Second City that features a Latino tourist running from the law.

Sound of police siren in Second City skit

Man in skit: Arizona, it’s not for everybody.

Woman in skit: From the Arizona Office of Tourism. Come for the barren desert wasteland, stay for the hospitality.

That’s the type of profiling Kristen Jarnagin with the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association wants to avoid. The group’s trying to put a face to the people the boycott impacts the most.

Kristen Jarnagin: We have 200,000 people in our state employed by tourism. When people cancel meetings or they decide not to come, those people who are hurt the most are the hourly employees.

Jarnagin says the first goal is to stop the bleeding, and prevent other cities from joining the boycott. Then, the group will focus on the long-term challenge of getting tourists back to Arizona.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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